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David Valdez goes to the White House
December 1983 I was working as the Chief Photographer for Nations Business magazine published by The United States Chamber of Commerce in Washington D.C.. At the time Nations Business was the largest selling business magazine in the country. I was on an assignment for Nations Business to photograph the 2nd Lady (the wife of the Vice President) Barbara Bush, who was placing the star on the top of the National Christmas Tree. While we were all waiting for the arrival of Barbara Bush, Scott Applewhite, Associate Press photographer told me that Vice President Bush's photographer was leaving . I thought immediately I would apply for the position. I had no idea how to do that so I did some research and found out that the Vice President photographer reported to the Vice President's Press Secretary. Shirley Green was the Vice President's Press Secretary so I wrote her a letter of introduction. Fortunately for me she was a Texan as am I so I received an invitation to meet with her. I was a cordial meeting, I brought a print portfolio but we mostly talked. After that meeting I was invited back to meet with the Chief of Staff Admiral Dan Murphy,Ret. That interview was very hard. He was pushing my buttons trying to make me upset. Fortunately I grew up as an Air Force brat. My father, Israel Valdez Sr. was a career U.S. Air Force Officer so I knew respect for authority. I had also been a photographer in the U.S.Air Force myself so facing a retired Navy Admiral was not too bad. But honestly when I left the interview with him I thought he hated me and I would never get the job.
Then I received an invitation to meet with Vice President George Bush. I was excited to be meeting the Vice President but it didn't really hit me till I was walking into his office in the Old Executive Office Building that I would be meeting alone with the Vice President of the United States. He greeted me and was so warm and gracious that he put me at ease. He showed me around his office where he had many photos of his grand children on display. He was telling me I would be with him in public and private and that we needed to have a trust between us. I would be exposed to personal and private situations and classified information. It was important to him that we had a good relationship. As we were having this conversation I realized he thought I had been offered a job and I at that point I realized no one had talked to me about the salary. I boldly asked him if he knew what the salary was. He had no idea but he said let's call Admiral Murphy so he did. Well Admiral Murphy's office was right next door and the walls in the Old Executive Office building are thin. I could hear him yelling, "What! He's asking you about salary?" Well I was hired anyway.
Life would never be the same after that. The decision Shirley Green made changed my life. Thanks Shirley.
From that day on till January 20,1993 I was running around the world on assignment with George H.W. Bush.
Below are just a few photos from that time. Here is also a link to photos of Vice President Bush at the Bush Presidential Library. One thing that most people don't know is that when I worked for the Vice President I was an employee of the United States Senate because the Vice President is President of the Senate.
David Valdez career continued:
First of all I want to thank those who have reached out to me after reading by blog posts. Always fun to hear what people think. I published a book in 1997 called "George Herbert Walker Bush, A Photographic Profile" . That book is a collection of photos of the life of George H.W. Bush with quotes from him and a forward that I wrote. All these years later people are still asking me to write my personal story. What they really want are stories about my time as the President's Photographer. I plan on doing that right here. I will tell stories that I remember as I remember things. I do a fair amount of public speaking and when I do that I show some of my White House photos and tell stories. That seems to always be a big hit so I will do that here in my next posts. Stay tuned. I have some fun stories and will share photos that I took along the way.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.